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Break Down In the Shape of Things to Come

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Neal spends the first two days after Captain Burke takes over Logistics and Strategy flinging his mind out toward his new instructor, trying to get a read on him. He isn't good at it, and knows it; he's spent too long pretending he can't do it at all, encouraged by his mother not to draw any attention to himself beyond what his mixed race will already garner him. Still, he tries; he has questions the captain might know the answers to, and he's willing to steal those answers if that's what it takes to get them.

The captain, however, doesn't seem to have the same kinds of stray thoughts Neal picks up sometimes from other people. He gets a sense of the man's essential solidity, a feel for a mind with a great deal of focus. The few thoughts he does pick up are all slanted toward the course he's teaching, and once or twice toward the ship he is missing as though it was a lost limb.

Neal would feel more sorry for him if he didn't have the kinds of questions that he does, ones that burn in his mind and demand answers that Burke's mind won't give up to him. He decides after the second class that he's going to have to use his abilities more overtly if he intends to get the information he wants from the captain.

He doesn't plan how to do it beyond planning that he will. He'll do it by feel, like he does most things.